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Tensions on Eisenhower Memorial Rising Again

Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said the project should not receive any more Congressional funding until differences had been resolved. In May, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), also a member of the NCPC, said his team was investigating how the commission has functioned since its inception and how funding had been used.

Issa spokesman Ali Ahmad said on Thursday that “the committee is still receiving and reviewing relevant documentation.”

The commission worked with Gehry to make revisions and, in May, all members said they were pleased with the tweaks and expressed optimism that the project could move forward without delay.

“Time is of the essence,” said Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), a World War II veteran, in mid-May regarding building the four-acre memorial dedicated to his one-time commander. “There is a national interest in making sure this monument is completed to remind the next generation of Americans what America has gone through and the great leaders we’ve had.”

But the Eisenhower family, the National Civic Art Society and other critics were not impressed.

“Many of the changes that Gehry Partners made to the design concept are positive and welcomed,” the family members said in a statement.

In particular, the statue of Eisenhower that was to depict him as a child will now present him as a young man, and bas-reliefs will now be three-dimensional statues: one depicting Eisenhower speaking with 101st Airborne division soldiers at Normandy; another showing the former president as depicted in the 1966 photo “The Elder Statesman” taken by Yousuf Karsh.

“The scope and scale of the metal scrims, however, remain controversial and divisive,” the statement continued. “Not only are they the most expensive element of the Gehry design, they are also the most vulnerable to urban conditions, as well as wildlife incursions and ongoing, yet unpredictable, life-cycle costs. ... For those reasons, we do not support a design that utilizes them.”

Then, on June 7, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a member of the NCPC, said he wanted an opportunity to personally review the design before things continued to move forward.

All of these roadblocks have resulted in a series of postponements of previously scheduled appointments for the commission to make a presentation to the NCPC.

The most recent delay, Cimko said, coincided with the commission’s submission of an almost 600-page technical report detailing the testing that had been done on the materials that would make up the memorial.

The NCPC, she said, wanted to take more time to review the report.

Correction, Oct. 26
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the estimated price of the Eisenhower memorial.

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